GardenValleyJuly 7, 2014

I hate to be that person who's first post is a problem that needs solving, but I guess often times that's the way it works. I apologize ahead of time, that being said GardenWebbers, I need some help.

Never had issues growing tomatoes before other than our short growing season until a couple weeks ago. I have searched the web and asked our local experts and have gotten mixed opinions, everything from it's just a funk to "you have to pull them all out and throw them in the dumpster."

Symptoms started with the Better Boys about 3 weeks ago. 3 of them have severely curled or twisted leaves and the plants themselves want to grow out, not up. I am sure the best thing to do for all the better boys at this point is to pull them, I have replacements ready.

My Early Girls were doing very well until about a week ago, when they also started to have the leaves curl and somewhat twist on a few, but not to the extent of the BBs (see pictures). The old growth on the plants are very healthy, the new growth on top seems to be all that's effected. All are still blooming, some of the fruit is even starting to turn.

No bugs that I can see, no spots, no patterns, no excessive fertilizer...

Environmentally in the last week, we have have much warmer temps, close to 100 in the day, 65 at night. To offset the hot temps, we have increased watering. Drip system 4 gallons an hour for about an hour each night. I completely realize this may be the culprit, but also understand that we have a lot of decomposed granite that does not hold water that well.

We have a short growing season to begin with, and we are square in the middle of it. If I have to replant now, we run the risk of not getting any tomato production this year. Of course if this is disease, I do not want it spreading to the rest of the garden.

For now I am going to cut the water to them and see what happens. Any other suggestions?? Herbicide?Disease?Mosaic?Water?

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Second pic of full plant.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 11:46PM
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Could well be herbicide drift.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 12:12AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

When did you take the last picture ? (time of day) ?
What was the temperature then ?
How log before taking the picture had you watered it ?
I think that your current temps (65F to 100F) is to blame.
I would keep the plants and see what happens when the temps come down to normals.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 1:06AM
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I know we can't rule that out, but I live in a very rural area. I have one neighbor about 1/2 a mile from me and they haven't sprayed. Other than that, the county sometimes sprays the highway, but they haven't done it for about 8 weeks, so I'm not sure where it could have come from. Also, nothing else in the garden is showing signs of herbicides.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 1:13AM
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Picture was taken at about noon, plant was heavily watered the night before. Temp was probably high 90's. If it matters, plants look this way first thing in the morning when it's cool as well.

This post was edited by GardenValley on Tue, Jul 8, 14 at 1:27

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 1:24AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

If not herbicide drift, perhaps herbicide carryover in organic matter such as manure.


If you suspect so, do the easy bioassay they describe.

Here is a link that might be useful: carryover herbicide in organic matter

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 1:38AM
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I must say, that looks pretty similar to what I have going on. If it is herbicide in one way or another, is there anything that can be done about it?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 2:08AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

If you have used purchased manure, then it is a suspect. Have you done that ?

In your last picture I can see some wilting. That can be attributed to temperature (90F) at mid day, no matter how well the plant was watered. If you see the wilting leaves perk up after sundown, that is a good indication. Remember that 90F reported temperature is in the shade with air movement. In direct sun temps can be much higher than that. Just yesterdat some of my plants were showing slight wilting and the temp was around 80F.

Overall, your plant shown in the last picture is doing fine. It is grown to a good size, flowering, maybe has some fruits too.
If it had been planted in contaminated soil it could not possibly grow to its present size. Unless you brought the infected manure later.

Consider another possibility : Root problem. (rodents or disease)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 5:55AM
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That is very tight fisted on the top growth. Not the usual leaf roll/curl.
I'm also leaning more towards the sudden hot temps causing the stress.
If your drip system is a drip per plant close to the stem, they may not be getting a good surrounding soil soak. Especially if you are not getting a good storm once a week. Some feeder side roots could have been cut off.
I would expect to see discoloration in leaves for a virus.
Something like aminopyralid causes tight curling on tender plant growth. Herbicides can get carried for miles with a wind sheer. Not all plants would show harm, especially the heartier ones. Tomatoes will fight it out and usually survive... putting out new growth, side shoots, but the tops may not make it. I would find out what your county sprays. And check with some surrounding neighbors with gardens and see if they are having trouble...even a flyer in mailboxes like when pets go missing...

So if this happens to me? (very possible with sudden high heat and possible drought)...
I would have to test a few plants asap...get up some shade cloth, mulch with something light like straw, and form a wide trench and soak heavily with a that outside wide area...water every other or third day. Dilute feeding even more, but feed more often? I use neptune. I would try to save rather than pulling if the plants are green.

-i do use a straw mulch and water my entire plating area evenly but one year a newt got caught in my water line while out of town.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 6:21AM
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Good info...

I did not buy manure, it was already on the property and way tilled into the soil early this spring. A month before anything was planted. So, they have grown to this size with no new compost.

My drip system is a single drip at the stem, so that may have something to do with it. Come to think of it, the timing is about right for that.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 11:37AM
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So, you DID put manure on the soil in the spring, correct.
Sometimes herbicide damage takes a long time to show up, especially when it is residual herbicide, as that found in manure.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 1:25PM
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Yes, I did put manure on it this spring, about a month before planting..

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 3:11PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

When you read the link I provided earlier, you'll learn that some herbicides used in pastures and on grassy crops (wheat, etc) will persist for a year even if actively composted.

The tight twisting and brittle growth *is* due to herbicide damage.

Do the bioassay at the link I provided earlier to rule the manure in or out. Then proceed from there.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 5:36PM
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I once sprayed 2-4D on my lawn in the early Spring to kill off the Winter and Spring weeds. This was way before plant - out time. Maybe by a month or more. Then, after the plants had been in the ground for about a month, I now remember that on one occasion, when I was mowing the lawn, I sprayed the clippings right at the bases of the first row of tomato plants. About 4 weeks later, they were looking real bad... they got 2-4D damage. It does not take much at all.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 6:14PM
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I think you guys are right. I do believe this is due to herbicide damage, most likely residual. I will conduct the test as described in the link above.

The biggest question now is, what to do about it. I read above that should dilute the feed, but feed more often. I also plan on getting a some shade on them this evening to help with the heat stress.

Any other suggestions besides time to get these out of the funk??

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 6:35PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

If it is herbicides - and it sure appears to be to me - then waiting is about all you can do. It can be diluted somewhat with lots of water but then you risk drowning the plants. But the odds for recovery are in your favor. One study out of UC Davis School of AG that I read showed that some herbicides can remain active in compost for over 18-24 months.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 7:12PM
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Your plants do not look affected real bad. What I have done in the past with some luck is to prune the affected shoots to maybe half length. Usually, the new shoots come back looking normal or at least a lot better. You will be surprised how fast the new shoots will grow back. You may want to leave the better looking shoots alone and only prune those that look the worst. Good luck and report back to what happens.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 10:49PM
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In addition to the herbicide theoryâ¦.I was just looking at our recorded temps before this happened, and through the period that I noticed it.

Mid and late June was mid 70's and low 80's. Last day of June was 83, first of July went straight high 90's and has stayed there for a week. I left for a camping trip (house sitter watered) for a week on the 28th and came back the 5th of July.

Upon my return is when I noticed the bulk of these problems. I can't imagine that this hasn't contributed at least somewhat to this.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:17AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

The herbicide theory is not convincing, the way you have outlined it. UNLESS the county/neighbors used herbicide that its drift touched your plants.

One of the such herbicide contamination tests is to plant tomato seedlings in it . It will show better because the younger plants are more sensitive to it. Now your plants have been there for months and the herbicide residue was hiding somewhere !!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:57AM
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OP, those kind of temps happen all over the Country all the time summer after summer. Nothing unusual about them. A few days in the upper 90s is not going to cause the symptoms your plants are showing.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 8:39AM
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